In preparation for director Rob Minkoff and, daughter of the original creator, Tiffany Ward's arrival to give a talk about the Mr. Peabody and Sherman movie on February 21st, Tea Time was invited to view a special press screening of Mr. Peabody and Sherman yesterday, February 13th; 3 weeks before the movie's actual release! As I've never seen the original, Peabody's Improbable History, I wasn't exactly sure what to expect but was hyped for the movie after attending to a panel about the movie at CTNx. We even got limited edition Mr. Peabody themed 3D glasses!
Mr. Peabody is an incredibly intelligent dog who won the right, through legal law, to adopt a human infant boy, Sherman, as his son. Inspired by Sherman, Mr. Peabody built a machine called the WABAC to take Sherman on travels through time and teach him not only history but important life lessons. Now that Sherman is growing up, Mr. Peabody has to deal with the issues of being a father, trusting, and letting go through the adventures and mishaps that occur while attempting to solve the paradox created by Sherman and Penny when they traveled back in time.
I loved this movie. While I have some friends who would disagree, I liked this movie more than The Lego Movie. I laughed and I cried. I felt the characters to be endearing and relatable. I found the puns funny and having co-directed The Lion King, Rob Minkoff knew how to hit those beats to make heartstrings twinge as Mr. Peabody and Sherman attempt to resolve their issues. While there may be some issues of the story that takes a bit of a stretch of imagination, such as everyone speaking the same language, even in Egypt and Italy, they tend to be common occurrences in cartoons and thus I did not mind them. One small stretch that may have been a little too far is how Agamemnon says "Don't tase me bro" as if he knew what a taser is. One small point that was confusing to me was exactly when the WABAC was built. Mr. Peabody mentioned that he built the WABAC after being inspired by Sherman however in Mr. Peabody's memory sequence we see Mr. Peabody traveling back in time to William Shakespeare's and even ancient Egyptian time on the Nile (great reference back to Dreamwork's Prince of Egypt movie) while Sherman was still an infant. Otherwise, for a time traveling movie that can have many plot holes and inconsistencies, I felt that the story was decently strong.
While there were quite a number of butt jokes I quite liked the comedy element of the movie. I found the puns to be witty and quite funny. They were also very well integrated into the dialogue which is an issue that I had with Sunny with a Chance of Meatballs 2. In Meatballs 2 the puns just kept coming one after another as the characters kept on shouting them and it was quite dull and the "THERE'S A LEEK IN THE BOAT" joke wasn't even funny in the movie as it was completely out of place unlike the trailer when you think that they are in danger while going down rapids.
I really like the textures and materials in this movie. They were simple yet detailed. Simple in that they refer back to the original hand drawn cartoon yet detailed to give the world feasible plausibility and richness. The wood grain was intricately painted, the skin textures while simple had a great and beautiful amount of subsurface, and while Mr. Peabody may just look white, he in fact has detailed hair covering him. Also, while having had a dog, the details and specularity on Mr. Peabody's nose was perfect. I also want their shader/material for the sand used in Egypt as I am currently working on look dev for a beach.
The lighting was also really nice. There were subtle color adjustments for mood shifts that matched very well. Interestingly there is a segment in the movie as Mr. Peabody reflects upon his memory of Sherman growing up and during the segment the lighting/materials were "faked" as there were specularities, particularly eye specs. It was beautiful with a nice sepia tone but it was a similar method in turning everything to surface shaders and using an occlusion pass to create shadows.
While there have been movies where I have said "amazing in 3D, totally worth the extra ticket price", I unfortunately did not feel quite so for this movie. The movie tended to be very character focused and towards the front of the screen so there isn't often large expanses of land going back in space where the stereoscopic 3D can really shine. Instead there was a lot of fingers or swords point straight at/out at the screen which felt somewhat gimmicky and I didn't particularly care for.